Since 2011, arguably one of the faces of surfing has been the charismatic 5-foot-11, 29-year-old Aussie sensation, Julian Wilson.
A native and current resident of Coolum Beach, Queensland, Wilson (you can follow him on Instagram, @julian_wilson) has long been the fascination of those following the sport… a talented surfer that may have broken out but has never quite realized his potential. However, the now-experienced professional seems poised to do just that in 2018, currently sitting at #3 on the World Surfing League’s leaderboard.
So, how did he get to where he is now? Let’s take a look.
Born into a surfing family on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, Julian Wilson got his competitive start at the Pro Juniors, which swiftly led to an ISA World Junior title in 2006. On the heels of this came his invention of the “Sushi Roll” in Japan, a nifty blend of a Superman with a Backside Rodeo (see below).
Wilson’s first brush with stardom would come later, though, via Quiksilver’s celebrated video, Young Guns III.His delightful aerial antics caught the attention of critics and stirred the imaginations of fans of the sport, ultimately earning him Surfermagazine’s Breakthrough Performer award. But it wasn’t just on-screen moves that brought Wilson early accolades… his first year on the pro tour in 2011 earned him Rookie of the Year honors following a big Top 3-placement at Trestles and an overall No. 9 finish on the year.
The above early success set the stage for the wildly high expectations placed upon Wilson and, while he still hasn’t fully met those, his #3 WSL Tour overall finish in 2017 may now portend his true arrival.
This story deserves special mentioning as it offers a glimpse into who Wilson is beyond the competitive sphere: At South Africa’s J-Bay Open in 2015, three-time champ Mick Fanning was attacked by a great white shark. Instead of freezing or simply flagging down officials, Wilson paddled directly toward Fanning to intervene and offer any assistance possible. While Fanning was able to extricate himself from the dangerous situation, Wilson’s heroics didn’t go unnoticed—they won him the “Outstanding Bravery” award at the 2015 Pride of Australia Awards as well as the “Spirit of Sport” honor at the 2015 Sport Australia Hall of Fame Awards.
Immediately following the ordeal, Wilson gave an interview. Responding to the question of "You guys (Wilson and Fanning) are locked in a title battle right now, and to put things into perspective does that mean anything to you at this point in time?” Wilson replied, "No, not at all, I'm just happy he's alive.”
Wilson’s next career highlight? He’s hoping it’ll be at Quiksilver Pro France (WSL), Oct. 3 - 14 in Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France.
“It's a long year, and there is going to be ups and downs, but you just have to take the positives and be patient.”
“I froze trying to assess the situation and Mick fought and it was probably that that gave me the courage to go toward him, I think if any award was going to be given out, they definitely go to Mick for his amazing courage. I don't know how many people would have taken that thing on.”
On why he surfs: “I love it, I don’t know anything else.”
On his Breast Cancer Foundation work: “My mum's had two rounds of it (breast cancer) throughout my life and it's something that hits close to home and something that I can turn into a bit of a positive and give back a little bit. […] I’ll continue to do it as long as I'm on tour and have the opportunity.”